This article is part of our series about tailoring your content strategy for the ecommerce sales funnel. Check back for an in-depth look at how to cater your content for each individual stage of the funnel.
Despite all the work you put into preparations and marketing, when all is said and done, closing a sale is the hit-or-miss moment that defines your success. Everything up until your customer clicks “buy” is just a warm-up — the sale is and always has been the main event.
Closing a sale is never easy, especially in ecommerce where you have no direct interaction with your customers. But sellers can’t leave something so vital up to chance, so we’ve collected the techniques proven to be effective at winning over clients in the moment of truth.
Here, we outline the best content marketing strategies for the final stage in E. St. Elmo Lewis’s AIDA model, the “Action” stage, or as we know it, closing a sale.
If your customer has been following your content breadcrumb trail throughout the ecommerce sales funnel so far, then you’ve already presented your brand positively and communicated the advantages of buying from you. In that case, your goals for the Action stage are pretty straightforward:
Close the sale.
That’s the main goal, both for this stage and retail in general. Continue “selling” up until the end, even including final sales pitches on your product page and during checkout to combat last-minute resistance. For example, promote deals and discounts on the cart page — or even offer a coupon code — to remind shoppers why it’s in their best interest to buy from you and no one else.
If that’s not enough, there are some more specific ways to boost sales below.
Error-proof your payment process.
Whereas the other stages of the sales funnel are about making good choices, closing a sale is more about avoiding bad choices — don’t give your customers a reason to abandon the sale.
If they’ve made it this far, your customer already wants to buy from you, so your main goal is to not change their mind. Error-proof your payment process to remove any obstacles that could dissuade customers from purchasing.
This includes big gestures like incorporating all major payment gateways, but also the minutiae, such as removing all spelling or grammar errors. No infraction is too small to scare off customers who are already apprehensive.
Provide a fast and clean checkout.
Once you’re finished error-proofing your payment process, you can take steps to go above and beyond the standard for your shoppers — a necessary foundation for building a community of repeat customers.
Think of ways to improve the UX of your payment process in a way that sets you ahead of other ecommerce companies. For example, customers appreciate small touches like autofilling your zip code based on the city name or allowing them to change product options during checkout at the last minute.
Anything that saves time for your customers is worth it. According to a Baymard Institute study, about a third (28%) of shoppers abandon their cart because of a “too long/complicated checkout process,” so keep it short and simple before they reconsider.
When it comes to making a purchase, every customer has a different internal monologue, especially depending on how big the purchase is. Although the particulars may change, most of your customer’s journey at this stage revolves around last-minute resistance.
This is the moment when your customer must determine whether they’re willing to part with the money or calculating exactly how much they are willing to part with. While most of their decision depends on your product and the deal you’re offering, you can still increase your chances of a sale by reiterating your value points and reassuring them that their fears are unwarranted.
If you lose the sale, don’t get discouraged — the customer journey for the Action phase includes outside factors that have nothing to do with you. Customers may decide that they don’t need the product at all, or that they’d rather spend the money elsewhere. Some situations like this can’t be “won,” no matter how strong your content marketing is.
Best Types of Content
Because the ecommerce Action phase takes place at the online point of payment, conventional content marketing such as blogs or social media posts aren’t much use (unless you’re selling directly through them). If you want to add a little extra influence at the end, you have to do it on your site during the checkout process.
Specifically, pay attention to these areas of your site copy:
- Button microcopy
- Checkout design
- Microcopy during the checkout process
- Helpful widgets (pricing calculators, currency/measurement converters, etc.)
Consider your site design and copy to be your last line of support in closing a sale. These areas deal heavily with nuance and details, so go through your Action-stage content with a fine-toothed comb.
Guest Checkout Option
First things first, to optimize your sales process, include the option for guest checkout. This may not be directly under the purview of content strategy, but it’s a useful tip nonetheless: the same Baynard Institute study cited above says that 37% of shoppers abandoned their cart when they were forced to create an account.
To the casual internet user, seeing button after button of “buy now,” or “click here” may seem like overkill. However, digital marketers continue this practice because it’s effective. Multiple CTAs not only take advantage of the sales tactic of repetition, they also make it much more convenient to buy when they finally decide they want to. Every second an eager customer has to search for the “buy” button is a second they could rethink their decision.
Microcopy — the mere handful of words that appear within a button, prompt a form field, or show up as hover text — is an unsung hero in ecommerce that often goes underutilized. Individual word choices like “the” vs. “a” may seem negligible, but their small influence adds up. We don’t have space in this article to explain the best practices for microcopy, but you can read more about it here.
Cart Abandonment Emails
Losing a sale at checkout doesn’t mean it’s lost for good. Most online stores find success in sending an email to either remind or persuade a customer to complete an abandoned purchase. Based on statistics from SaleCycle, emails about cart abandonment have an open rate of 40-50%, compared to a 15% open rate for normal ecommerce emails.
But even more important, cart abandonment emails are proven effective in making a sale; they have a conversion rate of 2-3%. To put that in perspective, the average conversion rate for ecommerce sites in general is only around 1-2%, so cart abandonment emails essentially double your chances of making a sale with that particular customer.